Tracking Pathogen Transmission at the Human-Wildlife Interface: Banded Mongoose (Mungos mungo) and Escherichia coli as a Model System in Chobe, Botswana
Pesapane, Risa Raelene
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Anthropozoonotic diseases, defined as infectious diseases caused by pathogens transmitted from humans to wildlife, pose a significant health threat to wildlife populations. Many of these pathogens are also able to move from wildlife reservoirs to humans, termed zoonotic diseases, creating the possibility for bi-directional transmission between humans and wildlife. Recent studies show that a significant proportion of emerging infectious diseases in humans originate in wildlife reservoirs and that the frequency of emergence is increasing, yet the specific transmission pathways still remain speculative in most cases. Human fecal waste is persistent across human-modified landscapes and has been identified as a potential source of disease exposure for wildlife populations living near humans. As part of a long-term study of banded mongoose (Mungos mungo) that live in close association with humans and human fecal waste I used Escherichia coli and banded mongoose (Mungos mungo) for evaluating exchange of fecal waste-borne microorganisms at the human-wildlife interface. Antibiotic resistance was found in 57.5% ° 10.3% (n=87) of mongoose fecal samples and 37.2% ° 5.9% of isolates (n=253). Multidrug resistance was detected in 13.8% ° 4.2% of isolates (n=253). Mongoose and human fecal waste isolates consistently clustered together in phylogenetic analyses and statistical analysis of genetic variation showed no significant differences (p=0.18) between E. coli from human and mongoose populations. These results suggest that human fecal waste contamination is an important mechanism for the transmission of pathogens to both humans and animals, including the spread of antibiotic resistance in the environment, an emerging global health threat.
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